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Full text of "A history of Persia"

236                  HISTORY OF PERSIA                 CHAP.
the Glory of the Shia World, like the magnificent Gothic
cathedrals in Europe, was erected during the course of
many generations, each of which saw some addition.
The most, ancient part of the pile is the tomb-chamber,
believed to be the actual mausoleum built by Mamun
over the remains of Haroun-al-Rashid, and used a few
years later as the burying-place of the Imam Riza.1 The
dome was apparently low and erected over a chamber
33 feet square, and it is stated that the present golden
dome was built over the ancient one which still exists,
For 200 years the tomb was neglected, but at the
beginning of the eleventh century Mahmud of Ghazni
dreamed a dream, in consequence of which he ordered the
Governor of Nishapur to add to the shrine and to build
a wall round it.
The shrine, apparently, was again neglected until the
reign of Sultan Sanjar. An inscription which was copied
for me shows that by his orders it was repaired in
A.H. 512 (in8). This inscription and one bearing the
date A.H. 612 (1215) prove that the tomb-chamber was
not destroyed by the Mongols, although they sacked it;
we may consequently accept this as the original tomb-
chamber—a fact of some importance. The building was
cased with tiles, of which fragments remain.
The Mosque of Gauhar Shad.—Among the greatest
benefactors of the Shrine was Gauhar Shad, wife of Shah
Rukh, and to her piety we owe the magnificent mosque
called by her name, which perhaps constitutes the crown-
ing architectural achievement of the Mongols. It is,
indeed, a noble quadrangle, with four great arches. That
to the south-west, known as the Aywan-i-Maksura^ or
"Portico of the Sanctuary," supports a blue dome, and in it
the services are held. The illustration shows the beautiful
tile and plaster work inside the Portico ; it also gives the
pulpit which, according to Shia belief, will be ascended
by the Twelfth Imam on the Day of Judgment The
loftiness and elegance of the quadrangle, together with its
perfect proportions and exquisite tile-work, make it the
noblest mosque in Central Asia. In front of the magnifi-
1 Vide Chapter L, p. 73.